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Dialling in on a new stack and fixing jitters

As India moves towards the indigenisation of 5G, addressing challenges like skillset, security, and network quality will become important

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Dialling in on a new stack 1

As India moves towards the indigenisation of 5G, addressing challenges like skillset, security, and network quality will become more important

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We are good, but we can be better, way better. A Panel at TLF 2023 dissected various layers of Opportunities for the Mobile Ecosystem, like open innovation, cloud, edge computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), and sensor-based infrastructure, network technology partners, mobile platforms, apps and devices, and the society.

As moderator Jaideep Ghosh, COO, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co laid out well, with 90% of the world population having access to mobile phones, our lives are encapsulated in this six-and-half-inch shiny object that defines everything now. “But, where do we go next? What new opportunities and innovations emerge ahead,” he asked the panellists.

Painting a picture from an ecosystem angle, Arpita Paul, Managing Director— Communications, Media, and Technology, Accenture India outlined some macro trends. “There is a huge growth in digital connectivity, and, thus, growth in connected devices. This leads to a huge volume of data. So is the growth in applications connected to these devices. The major game-changer in this ecosystem is 5G. With all these macro trends in play, there are both possibilities and challenges ahead.”

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Not nirbhar anymore

Dr RK Upadhyay, CEO, C-DOT added the India stack and indigenous angle to this discussion. “Somewhere in 2020, because of geo-political issues, it was decided that the country should have its strengths. The government has a larger goal with Atmanirbhar Bharat for all industries but the telecom sector becomes important as it connects a lot of industry infrastructure,” he said.

Upadhyay further pointed out that the country still imports a major chunk of telecommunication components. “Should we, as a sovereign country, depend on technology from outside? These questions became important. Thus, we formulated a new approach and a consortium. We started a proof of concept (PoC) which is successful and now commercial orders are in progress. Our core and radio have been developed well in the country itself, and similarly, other components required by telcos are supplied by software players like TCS,” he said, talking about the successful PoC of indigenous 4G stack for BSNL.

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The government has a larger goal with Atmanirbhar Bharat for all industries but the telecom sector becomes important as it connects industry infrastructure.

Dialling in on a new stack 2

Dialling in on a new stack 2

“The government’s push and schemes like DLI, PLI, PMP, electronics clusters, etc. have made sure that we become a manufacturing hub for the rest of the world and we supply telecom gear,” he said.

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Arvind Bali, CEO, TSSC pointed out how the first real revolution, after mobility, was SMS, followed by cameras and devices. Is the revolution over now? No. “Anything and everything that comes to our mind can be put on a hand-held device. India’s population is huge. By 2030, India will have many more billion SIMs and reach a massive number by 2045. All devices will have sensors and would be communicating in some way. This will further broaden the ecosystem, especially with 5G enabling various use cases. The telecom sector is likely to play a major role in driving India’s GDP. That is where skills come into the spotlight.” Gaps that remain

Mobile has grown multi-fold during Covid and India has big success stories, from the health to education sector, added Prof NK Goyal, President, CMAI and Chairman Emeritus, TEMA. “Today if I want to punish someone in my office, all I need to do is take away the person’s mobile,” he quipped, underlining how life without a mobile has become unimaginable. He, however, pointed out how a lot of people are still not connected. “Why do a lot of people remain uncovered? This should be a priority area. Also, the quality of networks is a big concern area. No one wants to answer this question.”

He also suggested that the country and the industry must focus on security and data privacy. “If I die today with a phone in my hand, there is no way to transfer it to my son or daughter.”

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Skills are also a key factor to consider. So are on-ground issues and hardware repair. As Bali explained, “The mobile ecosystem has multiple components and there is a need for two to three technicians in each village across the country. “We need resources to repair fibre, everywhere,” he said adding that to help plug the skill gap, TSSC has launched village-level courses. “This will help local talents to handle repair, fibre splicing and other on-demand tasks.”

Upadhyay highlighted how a lot of work is happening in the country. “We are working on facilitating the ecosystem with 5G tests, 5G labs, start-ups, telecom technology developer fund, and DCIS scheme. We are funding growth and innovation in many ways.”

The panel also covered factors like the convergence of seamless experience, the issue of sustainability, connectivity, and longevity of devices; areas that the industry needs to focus on.

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By Pratima Harigunani

pratimah@cybermedia.co.in

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